Unbiased ruling for island waste site
I read with interest the articles in Lai See about which technology is best to treat Hong Kong's municipal waste.
Experts are quoted advocating both "traditional" mass burning incinerators and more recent "plasma" gasification technologies. The vast majority of Hong Kong people simply do not have the knowledge to judge, but they do have deep suspicions about the government's case to locate the first such facility in one of Hong Kong's last remaining unspoilt landscapes.
Who in their right mind would select a pristine coastline as the preferred site for a large industrial plant if alternative locations exist, which they clearly do - the three existing landfills being the most logical? This also ignores two other key points, namely that the site at the unspoilt island of Shek Kwu Chau will cost every taxpayer more than other options and take longer to bring into operation.
The case for selecting Shek Kwu Chau is flawed and suspicions over the government's motives will remain.
The flaws are clear: cost, time and a completely unsuitable location. What responsible planning authority would approve a 13.65 hectare reclamation for an incinerator immediately adjacent to a coastal protection zone, upon which, according to the outline zoning plan, "only development that is needed to support the conservation of the existing natural landscape or scenic quality of the area … will be permitted".
The government stubbornly refuses to consider these arguments and persists with lame excuses, including the most ridiculous of all, a "balanced distribution of waste facilities" - meaning, if an area has not yet been ruined, it is only fair that it should now be ruined.
Hong Kong, unlike any other city in the region, is blessed with a stunning cityscape, a splendid harbour and some magnificent landscape, all compressed into a tiny area and easily accessible to all Hongkongers. The few remaining areas of outstanding natural beauty such as South Lantau (including Shek Kwu Chau) are for all Hong Kong people to enjoy and should be preserved for future generations.
The government must break from the previous administration to show that it genuinely represents the best interests of Hong Kong citizens. One way to restart the debate is to invite a truly independent expert to review the options.
Internationally recognised organisations should be invited to study the options and present unbiased findings before any commitments are made and any works are started.
Continued reliance on the Environmental Protection Department and its own consultants is unacceptable.
Gina Chan Fung-chun, Sai Wan Ho